Con Ed Unveils New Blackout Preparedness Plan
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At a City Hall hearing Monday, a Con Ed official said a $1.4 billion investment in the utility system will help track outages and improve emergency response in the event of an outage like the one in Queens last summer.
"I have confidence in this management team... that they will do everything possible to make sure that there is not a recurrence of this kind of event,” said Con Ed’s John Miksad.
Tens of thousands of people were left without power for up to nine days and businesses were forced to close during the devastating outage at the height of a sweltering summer heat wave.
After under-reporting the number of customers affected by the outage last summer, Con Ed now says it's developing a computer system to map outages as they occur. Last year, the utility had to rely on customer calls to determine the scope of the outage.
Con Ed says many of the new upgrades are focused specifically in the Long Island City network, which was responsible for last summers massive blackout in Northwest Queens.
But the utility says the new tracking system won't be up and running for another year, which means another summer without it in place.
“I think people should be very concerned and we’re going to have to do some things to make sure people have less energy usage, so that we don't have to leave it to just Con Edison to protect us,” said City Councilman Leroy Comrie.
Council members saved their harshest questioning for the Bloomberg Administration, outraged because the Mayor's Office released a report on the Queens blackout three weeks ago, but didn't give it to the council until Monday morning.
The report concluded that if Con Ed was better prepared and more responsive, the blackout wouldn't have been as extensive and persistent.
“How do you answer charges, from the beginning that maybe the public is concerned that this administration has been a shield for Con Edison?” asked one councilman.
“That is, again, I think an inaccurate and a baseless charge,” responded Gil Quiniones of the Economic Development Corporation.